Nine great ways to spend sea days on a cruise

An helicopter ride from your cruise is an exhilarating way to spend the afternoon
An helicopter ride from your cruise is an exhilarating way to spend the afternoon - Scenic Cruises

It’s all very well visiting fabulous places and enjoying bucket-list experiences, but what to do on those days when there’s literally nothing on the horizon except the actual horizon?

If you’ve been packing your shore days with once-in-a-lifetime activities, you might welcome the chance of getting seriously acquainted with your cabin’s Egyptian cotton sheets. Or if you prefer to stay active, why not diarise a whole timetable of sea-day diversions?

The options really are endless – we’ve curated the best below.

For the artist

If you eschew creative pursuits at home for fear of running into judgmental neighbours, art classes at sea could be just the ticket. Cunard offers watercolour lessons hosted by its own artist in residence. Materials are provided, all abilities are welcomed and there’s even an exhibition at the end of your voyage to show off your new masterpieces.

Cunard offers watercolour lessons hosted by its own artist in residence
Cunard offers watercolour lessons hosted by its own artist in residence - Getty

Cunard (0344 338 8641; has the seven-night Norwegian Fjords voyage (aboard new ship Queen Anne) from £799pp, with plenty of time to discover your inner Picasso. Departs Southampton June 23.

For the golfer

Fancy perfecting your golf skills while you’re on holiday? Crystal is the only luxury cruise brand to have a PGA professional onboard every sailing. With driving nets and a putting green, guests can take part in daily onboard golf classes (twice a day on sea days), private lessons and a round of golf at a port (at extra cost). You don’t even need to pack your own clubs; everything is provided.

Crystal Cruises (0808 175 0340; has the 14-night Mombasa to Mumbai cruise aboard Crystal Serenity from £5,995, including flights and six sea days. Departs April 4 2025.

For the learner

Enrichment programmes and guest lecturers are always popular on sea days, and Viking’s Culture Curriculum is one of the best. Listen to guest lectures from authors, archaeologists, former diplomats and news correspondents, chat to onboard historians, and watch Destination Insights films and Ted Talks such as “10 ways to have a better conversation” and “The surprising science of happiness”.

Viking (0800 458 6900; has the 17-day Hawaiian Islands Sojourn from £5,190pp, including flights, transfers, meals and 10 sea days. Departs November 28 2024.

For the culture vulture

In terms of full cultural immersion, Windstar wins the race, with every cruise tailor-made to embrace the destination. On sea days on itineraries to Tahiti, for example, there are ukulele and drum lessons, Polynesian language, dancing and cooking classes, and various crafting sessions, including making a Polynesian headdress (beats a game of pickleball any day).

Immerse yourself in Polynesian culture with Windstar
Immerse yourself in Polynesian culture with Windstar - Getty

Windstar (0808 258 7943; has the 11-day Tahiti and the Tuamotu Islands cruise from £6,476pp.  Includes return flights from the UK and a one night pre-stay in Tahiti. Departs November 18.

For the body beautiful

Want to feel like a new person when you get home from a cruise? How about looking significantly different, too? From teeth whitening to cellulite-reducing body sculpting and everything in between (aside from actual cosmetic surgery, though never say never), spa treatments go above and beyond on cruise ships. On Oceania, you’ll find pain management therapy, Biotech laser line therapy, Restylane dermal fillers, Dysport wrinkle treatments, Thermage skin tightening and even a 50-minute face lift.

Oceania (0345 505 1920; has the 24-day Athens to Miami Euro-Atlantic Explorer from £6,059pp with 11 days spent at sea. Departs November 11.

For the big kid

It’s official: toys are not just for children. Boutique cruising companies such as Emerald Cruises make the most of a fantastic array of aquatic toys, including stand-up paddleboards, inflatable kayaks, snorkel kits and thrilling water scooter seabobs. At the other end of the scale, the more budget-friendly Royal Caribbean offers the largest waterpark at sea, including the Pressure Drop, the first cruise-ship open freefall waterslide, on the world’s largest cruise ship, Icon of the Seas.

Emerald Cruises (0161 516 8456; has the eight-day Grenadines and Windwards itinerary from £4,379pp including return flights, transfers, meals and use of all sea toys. Departs February 8 2025.

For the fitness-curious

The word “gym” may not be part of your land-based vernacular, but the new generation of cruise ships offer a much wider offering than the standard treadmills and dumbbells. As well as yoga, Pilates and fitness classes, Virgin Voyages offers bungee classes, barre workouts and a 250m (273-yard) running track. Virgin’s intimidatingly titled MyBeast facilities also feature oversized games and adult-sized seesaws. Somewhere to relax after a visit to the onboard tattoo parlour, perhaps?

There's a 250m (273-yard) running track on board Virgin Voyages
There's a 250m (273-yard) running track on board Virgin Voyages - Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages (020 3003 4919; has the 11-night Barcelona to Civitavecchia cruise from £2,702pp, with three days spent at sea. Departs November 3.

For the budding chef

Cookery courses offered on cruise lines are typically about adding one pre-chopped thing to another and giving it a stir, rather than actually useful lessons. Not so with Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Its Epicurean Spotlight voyage offers wine pairing, mastering knife skills and classes preparing the various cuisines of the cruise.

Foodies flock to Regent Seven Seas
Foodies flock to Regent Seven Seas - Regent Cruises

Regent Seven Seas (023 8082 1390; has a 10-night Epicurean Spotlight Voyage from Athens to Barcelona from £7829pp, calling at Istanbul, Sicily, Sorrento, Capri, Rome, Cannes and Provence. Departs August 14.

For the adventurer

Finally, if you’ve perfected your golf swing, learnt knife skills and paddleboarding, had your teeth whitened and watched umpteen Ted talks and movie premieres (offered on Disney Cruise Line), a helicopter flight could be the icing on the cake. When Scenic yachts are docked en route to destinations, passengers can make use of the onboard helicopter, Zodiac speedboat and mini submarine for undersea adventures.

Hop on-board a submarine for underwater exploration
Hop on-board a submarine for underwater exploration - Scenic Cruises

Scenic (0161 516 0016; has the 11-day Discover the Kimberley Coastline: An Ancient Wilderness cruise from £8,423pp, including flights from all major UK airports, transfers, fine dining experiences and a butler. Departs July 9 2024.